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††††††† Whitehorse, Yukon

††††††† Tuesday, December 14, 2004 ó 1:00 p.m.

 

Speaker:   I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.

 

Prayers

DAILY ROUTINE

Speaker:  † We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.

Tributes.

TRIBUTES

In recognition of members of service and fraternal orders

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay special tribute to some unsung heroes who have worked tirelessly for decade after decade for the common good and to improve the quality of life of Yukoners and for our fellow Canadians. Iím referring here to the many service and fraternal orders whose good works are too numerous to mention, whether it be providing playground equipment for children, providing affordable living accommodations for seniors or offering assistance and support to the blind, for victims of cancers, AIDS or other human afflictions or needs. They have a great and a noble calling, and that is to serve those in need and those less fortunate than ourselves. They volunteer to provide services and support to the public that no government could ever hope to afford to provide.

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Their efforts on behalf of Yukoners have been exemplary. They have served far beyond the call of duty. The ranks of some of the orders are beginning to thin, as time takes its toll.

Mr. Speaker, Iíd like to urge younger Yukoners to take up the challenge and accept the torch of public service that is being handed to them by some of these tried and true veterans who have served Yukoners so well for so many years.

It is time for Yukoners to say thank you to the service and fraternal orders, and to tell them how much their work is appreciated and to honour their service.

On behalf of all Yukoners, I do so today. Thank you to the service and fraternal orders, one and all.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Speaker:   Are there any further tributes?

Introduction of visitors.

Are there returns or documents for tabling?

TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS

Hon. Mr. Lang:   For tabling, I have the shareholdersí letter of expectation for 2004-05 between the minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation.

 

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Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I have for tabling the annual report of the Department of Educationís public schools branch for the 2003-04 school year.

 

Hon. Mr. Lang:   I have for tabling the annual report for the Property Management Agency for 2003-04, and the government contracting summary report by department for April 1, 2004, to September 30, 2004.

 

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I have the Yukon State of the Environment report for tabling. I also have the annual report of the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment for tabling.

 

Speaker:   Are there any reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motion?

NOTICES OF MOTION

Mr. Cathers:   I rise in the House today to give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House urges all Yukoners to have a wonderful holiday season, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 

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Speaker:   Is there a ministerial statement?

This then brings us to Question Period.

QUESTION PERIOD

Question re:† †††Social assistance cheques

Mr. Hardy:   In the spirit of the season and practice of past governments, will the Minister of Health and Social Services guarantee that social assistance recipients will receive their cheques in time to enjoy some portion of the family Christmas most of us take for granted?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Theyíve already received the cheques for December.

Question re:  Yukon Energy Corporation, protocol for governance relationship

Mr. McRobb:   Yesterday the president of the Yukon Energy Corporation told this House the protocol for the governance relationship has sat on the ministerís desk since August. Can the minister advise us why he has delayed tabling the protocol and when he intends to finally get around to letting us in on his secret plan?

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Hon. Mr. Lang:   There is nothing secret about it. It is public, and I will forward the protocol to the member opposite.

Question re:  Minister of Economic Development, trip to China

Ms. Duncan:   I have some questions today for the Minister of Economic Development. Yesterday the minister tried to explain that when he travels to other countries on behalf of the government, it is perfectly acceptable for him to have meals and travel expenses paid for by the private sector. Our law says the minister has to report all this information.

We all know the governmentís reputation for secrecy. When does the minister intend to fully disclose all information about who paid for what on his recent trip to China?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   As the member opposite quite knows, that information is already being prepared. If she took the time to read Hansard yesterday, she would have noticed that it said that the government paid for it. Most of the meals were paid for by Anshan, Leoning, Shandong and Penglai ó a variety of governments within China, not by private companies. Very little was paid for by a private company. All travel was paid for by the Yukon government.

So the member opposite is flying a kite out there somewhere.

Question re:  Railroad to Carcross

Mr. Fairclough:   My question is for the Minister of Economic Development. Why did the minister fail to consult with the people of Carcross about the government plan to purchase the 28-seat economic miracle called the Red Line at the same time his colleague was consulting the owner of the Caribou Hotel about a possible purchase?

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Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I think a phone call to inquire if something is for sale is hardly a negotiation. Iím surprised that the member opposite ó maybe he doesnít drive south very frequently to notice the miles of track and miles of rail that have been sitting in Carcross for the last two years. This has been under discussion for a very, very long time, and maybe the member should look at other parts of the Yukon.

Question re:  Water, safe drinking regulations

Mr. Cardiff:   Mr. Speaker, itís now 364 days since I tabled a written question to the Minister of Health and Social Services about making safe drinking water affordable ó and I stress affordable ó for all Yukoners. Why is the minister refusing to be accountable to Yukon people by not answering that simple question?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:  † Our government has been out on a complete consultation with all Yukoners with respect to the issue of affordable potable water. Iím pleased to advise that the regulations for municipal public drinking water systems will be proclaimed probably early in the new year. They were awaiting translation and a number of facets. The issues before us have been fully addressed by our government, as well as the issue of potable water and our well-drilling program ó another initiative of this Yukon Party government to further enhance the availability of potable water for all Yukoners.

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Question re:  Fish and Wildlife Management Board

Mrs. Peter:†††††† My question is for the Minister of Environment. The ministerís continual undermining of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board is nothing less than arrogant abuse of power. When will the minister stop obstructing legislated boards and committees and allow them to fulfill their mandate of consulting Yukon people and providing informed advice to the government?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The entire premise for the member oppositeís question is totally incorrect. This government is firmly committed to working with the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, but we have to do so within the framework of the Umbrella Final Agreement and its implementation rules. That we are fully committed to do and that we are doing. The track that the federal government was on ó some of the departments of the federal government ó was inconsistent with the Umbrella Final Agreement and its implementation rules. That has been an issue that has been addressed and weíre moving forward. We have the utmost faith in those who serve on the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, and we will continue to have that faith, but we have to adhere to the rules of the Umbrella Final Agreement and its implementation regulations and rules.

Question re:  Business loans, outstanding

Mr. Hardy:   Will the Acting Premier do what all Yukoners have been demanding and make the Deputy Premier pay his long-overdue debt to Yukon taxpayers or drop him from Cabinet?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   †Certainly itís a pleasure to rise on this matter as I have on a number of occasions, in addition to the Premier. As I have said repeatedly on the floor of this Legislature, we have made considerable progress on this particular file. I just have to point out again that it was under this governmentís watch that progress has actually been made, including the forgiveness of NGO loans, the repatriation from the federal government of hundreds of thousands of dollars to where it belonged, not to mention the recommitment of approximately $2 million of outstanding loans.

We, as the Government of Yukon, remain fully committed to the full recovery of all loans and the remaining delinquencies are further being looked at, including what options are available to our government and how to address them, one of them being full collection. So we are certainly doing our part. We are making progress, and we, unlike any of the other governments previous to us, are actually stepping up to the plate to address this issue.

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Question re:  Dawson City bridge

Ms. Duncan:   The Ombudsman has recently stated in his annual report that the default position of government should be disclosure, not secrecy. Yet for months this government has been underestimating the cost of the Dawson bridge, and government kept secret a report that puts the true cost of the bridge at $44 million. This report had to be obtained under the Access to Information and Protection of PrivacyAct, after the open and accountable Yukon Party refused to make it public.

My question is for the Minister of Economic Development, who has responsibility for the P3 bridge to nowhere. How does the government justify this secrecy that flies in the face of the Ombudsmanís annual report?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   It would appear that we are again talking about the bridge to nowhere replacing the ferry to nowhere.

If we go back and look at some platform proposals, we find that one platform ó and I might add, the Liberal platform ó talks clearly about the importance of the bridge and its importance in economic development. In fact, the Liberals made a promise to issue a proposal call for the construction of a Yukon bridge at Dawson. That comes right out of the Liberal platform. And we go back to the media reporting the then leader of the Liberal Party, who speculated through the issue of bonds that these costs could be paid for by a variety of investors on the open market. Tolls have been a contentious item, with one local economist estimating $30 per crossing. The leader of the Liberal Party said that he didnít have a problem charging tourists to cross, estimating $5 a pop.

Itís kind of interesting when these things come up, and weíre being accused of them. Theyíve been part of the Liberal Party platform for many, many years.

Question re:  Electrical rate stabilization fund

Mr. McRobb:   The rate stabilization fund has protected Yukon Electrical customers from rate increases for the past six years. The most recent funding directive will expire in three months, throwing the program into jeopardy. What is the ministerís secret plan? Is he prepared to extend funding for the program, as previous governments have done, or does he have some other secret plan?

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Hon. Mr. Lang:   We donít have any secret plans. We are working with the board and we hope to extend that program.

Question re:  Tantalus School, Yukon College campus at

Mr. Fairclough:   From the very first day of this sitting, the Minister of Education has refused to acknowledge the mess he has made over the Carmacks school issue. Is the minister now ready to announce that he has listened to the people of Carmacks and will not be adding the Yukon College campus to the new school?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   It appears we start out again today with an opinion from the member opposite, for what itís worth. I believe that this government has been sincere from day one. This government has made commitments that the school will be built in Carmacks and I can guarantee that it will be.

This government has maintained from day one that the best interest of the children will remain a priority and it will be kept as such. This government will continue to recognize that the safety of the children in Carmacks is paramount. This government has gone far beyond collaboration to have a nice facility built in Carmacks and I have to state for the record that it was a very difficult trail but, because of the political will that this government has, we will continue to work to the best interest of the citizens and all the children in Carmacks. This government has not diverted one bit from the first intentions that we had of building the school.

I am pleased to announce that things are on track and we will continue to try to ensure that a good infrastructure is built.

Question re:  Whitehorse Correctional Centre rebuild

Mr. Cardiff:   The director of correctional services has said that inmates at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre facility are increasingly younger, more violent and more involved in drug activity. The need for a new jail has been demonstrated for years. Why is the minister ignoring the safety of workers and inmates?

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Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Again, it appears we have a lot of opinions coming from across the floor today, and thatís all they are: opinions. This government has always maintained that there was an importance in working with the correctional facility to replace that facility. We will continue to do so. For the member opposite to say that things are not really happening up there is not true. This government is undertaking a whole new approach to restructuring the workforce in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The union is involved with it. I believe it is going to do a lot of good for how the facility is run. Mr. Speaker, this government hasnít been sitting idle. We have introduced a number of programs in the facility for inmates. We have the introduction to log building, initial-attack fire suppression training, introduction to small engine repairs, introduction to welding, occupational first aid level III and other courses that are going on. So this government is concerned. And with the correctional reform taking place, Iím quite confident that, at the end of the day, we will have a good blueprint for a facility.

Question re:  Youth homelessness

Mrs. Peter:   Mr. Speaker, it is now winter and, again, many young people in the Yukon have turned to couch surfing and other high-risk behaviour just to survive. This government refuses to acknowledge this grim reality. What concrete steps is the Minister of Health and Social Services taking to ensure that no Yukon youth have to face the prospect of spending a night in an unsafe environment or freezing to death on the streets this winter?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, the full range of facilities and the social safety net are in place to assist Yukoners who need help. Weíre very proud of how weíve enhanced our social safety net ó not just for the youth but for the entire group in our society who are less fortunate than some of us here. Mr. Speaker, we have in the Yukon a major drug and alcohol problem ó a substance abuse problem of a proportion that is causing us major concern.

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Our government is making a concerted effort ó the Department of Health and Social Services in conjunction with the Department of Justice and my colleague, the Minister of Justice, as well as the Minister of Education ó to address this social issue. It is a problem that I donít have all the answers for, but hopefully together we can accomplish something.

But the problem has been identified, Mr. Speaker, and that problem is substance abuse and the alarming conditions that happen as a result of this problem we have here in the Yukon.

Question re:  First Nations, government relations with

Mr. Hardy:   The Premier had an opportunity to make one of his major platform planks a reality. I guess I have to ask the Acting Premier: between now and the next sitting, will the Premier convene a summit with Yukon First Nation leaders to establish true government-to-government relations based on equality, trust and mutual respect?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The premise of the engagement of our First Nation partners in the economy is exactly predicated on trust. There is a government-to-government relationship that has been established by this Yukon Party government that is unprecedented in the history of the Yukon. We have a lot of work to do but we have accomplished a lot to date, and we are moving forward on this front quite substantially.

Question re:  Seniors care facilities

Mr. McRobb:   The Health ministerís preoccupation with the seniors facility in his own riding hasnít left much time for seniors elsewhere. Even though he hadnít fully read the study for the proposed Haines Junction facility, he ordered the department to go back out and re-crunch the numbers. This has caused an unnecessary delay.

Can he let us in on his little secret? Exactly what couldnít he accept and when will he be tabling the study?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Our government committed to examine the feasibility of a seniors care facility in both Teslin and Haines Junction. The base data that was assembled over the course of this team, which was the same team that did the study on both Watson Lake and Dawson City ó they have come back with some data that is questionable.

It is of paramount importance that we base any decision on factual information that can be extrapolated and useful to a government. Weíve gone back to re-examine this area because there is probably an issue with the numbers being able to substantiate an initiative.

The area we want to examine fully is to provide the highest possible level of care to all Yukoners and that may result in the construction of a multi-level care facility in both Haines Junction and Teslin. Itís the second two communities that we committed to examine and we are doing exactly that.

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Question re:  Veterinary college, University of Saskatchewan

Ms. Duncan:   The Yukon Party have been secretive and selective with sharing information. When questions arose about the role that the Minister of Economic Development had in assisting a former employee to attend vet college in Saskatoon, he released a letter to the media. He would not answer questions in this place, where we also do the publicís business. Will the Minister of Economic Development disclose for members of the Legislature any conversations or correspondence he had with the Conflicts Commissioner on the propriety of the Government of Yukon assisting his former employee by securing a seat at the vet college in Saskatoon? Will he share that information here where we also do the publicís business?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Well, to start with, I want to state for the record that the individual who was a successful candidate for this position was very worthy of that position. The way the whole process is set up, the government has to sponsor that individual or any individual who wants to go to this vet college because thatís the only way you can get a seat ó if they are sponsored by this government. To date, I believe that this individual has proven to be a very worthy candidate. Iím aware that she appears to be an A student. This governmentís role, I believe, is to encourage citizens of this territory to go and better their education, not put barriers up to keep them from being able to advance, but to encourage them.

Question re: Dawson City bridge

Mr. Fairclough:   For reasons that defy logic, the Minister of Economic Development is now the master bridge builder in Dawson City. Instead of pushing full steam ahead on this legacy item for the Member for Klondike, will the minister slow this process down until Yukon people have been properly consulted on the project that could impose a $50-million burden on future taxpayers?

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Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I see the bridge has gone up another $8 million in the last 10 minutes. Perhaps we should wait for the request for proposal. But I do point out to the member opposite the strong support of the Liberal Party in their platform, their proposal to use tolls ó Iím assuming thatís ďtollsĒ and not ďtrolls,Ē with an ďrĒ ó on the bridge.

I would point out too that the first expression of interest in the Dawson bridge was in 1992, and that was well before the MLA for Klondike was elected. I understand that the most accurate instrument in the world is a retrospectoscope.

Question re:  Seniors, affordable housing for

Mr. Cardiff:   Will the minister responsible for Yukon Housing Corporation break through the wall of silence and tell us what role public/private partnerships will play in the provision of affordable housing for seniors?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I would have to throw that question back to the member opposite and ask if he sees anything in his crystal ball. Iíd love to know about it, because that has not been discussed.

Question re:  Kausheeís Place, program for older women

Mrs. Peter:   My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. The older womenís program at Kausheeís Place has seen a 500-percent increase in participation. Federal funding is only guaranteed until next March. Will the minister provide interim financing to keep this essential program alive and instruct his officials to work with the federal government to prevent any interruption in service?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The member opposite correctly pointed out that there is an issue of the flow of federal money to Kausheeís, and there certainly is. A lot of the programs initiated by the federal government here in the Yukon have sunset clauses.

But letís go into the areas our government has been addressing with Kausheeís. From the time we came to power, up to the current date, weíve increased funding to Kausheeís by approximately $200,000. This goes to double staffing and to addressing the issue of the increased demands being placed on Kausheeís.

We are cognizant of the importance of this facility, and itís doing a tremendous job. Our government is funding it, but Iíd encourage my colleagues to join with me and make representation to our federal Member of Parliament and the Government of Canada to continue to flow funds in the manner they are currently being flowed to Kausheeís and also to a lot of other First Nation programs, where funding appears to be drying up. Itís not just Kausheeís; itís a whole series of programs that the federal government has funded here in the Yukon for which time expires on March 31 next year. Thatís only a short time away.

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Question re:  Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm

Mr. Hardy:   Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Environment do the honourable thing and come to terms with the owners of the Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm, which the Premier failed to do despite written assurances to the contrary?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, our government has taken every initiative possible with the owners of the Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm to see if we could come to an arrangement with them. It was done at the highest level of our government. Unfortunately, this is a privately owned business, subject to the fluctuation of markets on their product and subject to their own determination. But the department has been cognizant of the problems associated with the new Yukon Act that was signed by the Yukon Liberal Party, and there are some problems with that conversion from the old act to the new act that are manifesting themselves in problems our government is having to address, and we will be addressing them.

Question re:  Regulatory review committee

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party promised Yukoners a regulatory review committee. The Member for Copperbelt was appointed as chair of this committee. I wrote to the member over a year ago and never got a response, asking what the committee has done, what legislation theyíre going to repeal. There have been no public announcements about this committee, no repeal of business-unfriendly legislation, and, in fact, weíve had a legislative-light agenda.

Iíd like to ask the Minister of Economic Development ó since he seems so fond of speaking about regulations that impede business and acts that impede business, one in particular being the Yukon Liquor Act ó when the Minister of Economic Development intends to do some work on the regulatory review and repealing such legislation or the work on such legislation that impinges business ó in his own words ó such as the Liquor Act? When does he intend to do his job?

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Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Our government is cognizant of the tremendous regulatory burden that has been imposed by the previous government on all of us here in the Yukon. Our government is committed to reviewing that. That review is underway. Look at the tangent that the leader of the third party is off on; her suggested initiatives are to amend the Liquor Act, make liquor more widely available and then build a new jail with a larger capacity. We are not interested in these initiatives; weíre interested in regulations and initiatives that create a positive area for Yukon businesses to develop in and grow into. Itís in the better interests of all Yukoners that we have less cumbersome regulations that work.

Question re:  Medical travel per diem rates

Mr. McRobb:   Yukoners on Outside medical travel are forced to pay for their own meals and accommodation and after three days are only allowed to claim a paltry $30 per day. When will the Health minister finally loan his attention to this issue and pay Yukoners a decent rate?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   As the member opposite knows full well, we have some of the best funded programs and initiatives here in the Yukon. We are very, very fortunate in having the cost of medical travel in Yukon being picked up for those in need of medical attention with an acute care facility they can be brought to in Whitehorse. Furthermore, we have an excellent arrangement with both British Columbia and Alberta should those requiring medical attention outside of the Yukon have to be sent to those areas.

A number of initiatives are in place now to assist those in need of medical attention. I must point out for the member opposite that Iíd encourage him to examine what is in place in any other Canadian jurisdiction. Everyone will find out that we have in place some of the best arrangements and financial remunerations for covering costs of any political jurisdiction in Canada.

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Question re:  Government accountability

Mr. Hardy:   Now all through this Question Period, my colleagues and I have been probing this government over the shameful record of its first two years in office, and I wonít mince words: we on this side of the House are as disgusted as the majority of the Yukon people by what we continually hear from the members opposite. The wall of secrecy is nothing less than abuse of power. For what itís worth, will the Acting Premier give his word that he and his ministers will show more respect for this democratic institution in future than they have so far?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Our government ran on a platform of restoring investor confidence in the Yukon economy, rebuilding the Yukon economy, and working cooperatively with our First Nation partners in restoration of this Yukon economy ó and weíve done just that. That is manifesting itself now in the areas of one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada. Itís not a U-Haul economy going south; itís now a U-Haul economy coming north. We have an influx of people rebuilding the Yukon economy. Thereís optimism, thereís enthusiasm and thereís light at the end of the road.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, in regard to the economy, Mr. Speaker, everybody in this territory knows that the economy was turning around before they were elected and it was turning around because of the hard work of Yukon people and other levels of government and the governments before them, and this government and this acting minister will not give credit to them. Now we gave this government an opportunity to live up to its campaign commitment of doing government better. The single most significant piece of legislation this sitting was Bill No. 107, Democratic Reform Act. It recognized that Yukon people have a right to decide how they elect their members and how they want their MLAs to behave. The Premier and his colleagues failed to give it the attention it deserved. Shame on them. Shame on them.

When does the Acting Premier intend to honour his campaign promise of a government that is truly open and accountable to Yukon people?

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Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Our party platform firmly enunciates the area of electoral reform, and we have an initiative underway in that area, which the members opposite have firmly criticized. Any initiative that is undertaken by our government that is positive in nature, that serves to examine what is transpiring in other jurisdictions, has been rejected totally by the official opposition and the third party. The only way to do it is the way they did it.

Yukon people have spoken. The Liberals are no longer in power; the NDP are no longer in power. Our government was elected on a party platform, and we have committed to that platform, Mr. Speaker, and we are about two-thirds of the way ó two-thirds of those initiatives have been fulfilled in the first two years of our mandate. That is the way the Yukon economy is going. That is the way our party platform commitments are being met.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, Mr. Speaker, Yukon people are not fooled. They watch this House on television, they hear it on the radio, they read what is going on in the papers. They see and hear this government hiding behind its wall of secrecy and refusing to be held accountable for its actions. They see how this government refuses to consult in any meaningful way and ignores any advice it doesnít agree with. They see how this government plays favourites and creates divisions between people and within communities, and that is a very serious type of action from this government.

My question was for the Premier; I will direct it to the Deputy Premier in this case. Will he and his colleagues change their way before the next sitting of the Legislature or will Yukon people have to wait until the next election for a government that treats them with the respect that they deserve?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Our government is cognizant of all Yukoners, and we are here as a government to put in place whatever is appropriate for Yukoners to further their education, health ó the whole gamut of programs operated by the government. Further to that, there is now optimism in the Yukon as a result of this government being able to meet its platform commitments.

As I speak here today, the Premier is on a conference call with the Prime Minister of Canada. He is going to be receiving $40 million for the Yukon, and that is going into further enhancing the Yukonís development, Mr. Speaker.

So, this government has done an excellent job of putting the financial house in order and fully meeting our platform commitments in about two-thirds of the areas. We are working on the balance of those areas. But the main ones are restoring investor confidence, rebuilding the Yukon economy in partnership with our First Nations and moving forward so the Yukon is one of the best ó if not the best ó place in Canada to live, bring up your children and have optimism for the future.

 

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Speaker:   The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Motion agreed to

 

Speaker leaves the Chair

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Chair:   Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order.

The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 12, Second Appropriation Act, 2004-05. I understand the Department of Education is up next.

Before we begin, do members wish a recess?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   We will take a 15-minute recess.

 

Recess

 

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Chair:  Committee of the Whole will now come to order.

Bill No. 12: Second Appropriation Act, 2004-05 ó continued

Chair:   The matter before the Committee this afternoon is Bill No. 12, Second Appropriation Act, 2004-05. We will continue on now to Vote 3, Department of Education.

 

Department of Education

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   It does give me great pleasure to introduce the 2004-05 supplementary budget for the Department of Education. Mr. Chair, Iíd like to start out by thanking all the hardworking staff within the government education program who worked diligently to ensure that the Yukon continues to have a very high standard of education. Our government has substantially increased the budget for the Department of Education. In fact, the budget passed this spring was the largest Education budget in the history of the territory.

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This yearís supplementary budget continues our commitment to respond to the critical education needs of Yukoners. The 2004-05 main estimates of O&M budget for Education was $99.98 million, while the main estimates capital budget was $11.37 million.

With this budget many new initiatives were implemented. This government increased funding to Yukon College by $1 million. Our support for Yukon College shows that building a vibrant economic future for Yukon continues to be a top priority. Yukon College programs provide important opportunities for Yukoners to become successful in the workforce and to get the skills they need to participate in economic opportunities. This is particularly true for trades and technology training because the skills trades are and will continue to be in high demand in Yukon and across Canada.

Iím told that the trades programs at the College are running at full capacity.

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In addition to increased funding for Yukon College, we increased support to our post-secondary students in two ways: by increasing the amount of our grant programs and by creating more summer employment opportunities. We indexed our student financial assistance programs, the Yukon grant and the student training allowance to reflect increases in the cost of living.

We also increased the number of summer jobs available to our students through the student training and employment program, known as STEP. By adding additional positions, we gave more students the opportunity to earn summer income but, more importantly, to gain valuable career experience. This will help our students make the transition to the workforce after they graduate.

The 2004-05 budget also included a number of new initiatives geared to improve student success rates. Principals are now working with First Nations and school councils to get the home tutor program up and running in schools to provide extra help for rural and First Nation students who need it. Rural students can now take Yukon College courses as part of their high school program, giving them a wider range of course options to complete their diploma.

This government provided this alternative to provide an increased array of options for students to complete their high school education in their home community and to increase access to trades and technology programs. When it is appropriate, we now pay the tuition for a high school student to take a course toward their high school diploma at the local college campus.

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While most of this governmentís initiatives are directed at students who are still in school, this yearís budget provided funding for an alternative school for school-aged dropouts in Whitehorse. This new education initiative, which is scheduled to open in February 2005, will be called the Whitehorse Integrated Learning Centre, and it will help school-aged youth to re-engage in learning, finish school and achieve their career goals. It will provide a welcoming, flexible environment to encourage youth to continue working toward their high school diploma.

I can now report that the site has been chosen. The centre will be located at 407 Black Street. Renovations are currently underway. The individualized learning centre is not intended for students who are currently attending existing schools. Policies, procedures and the operational framework are in the process of being worked out, including student selection, attendance requirements and curriculum.

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As part of this process, a steering committee has been formed and will continue to meet on a monthly basis. The co-ordinator has met with young people and First Nations who may access the school and professionals who will work with students who have dropped out.

The 2004-05 budget also included a strong commitment toward improving First Nation studentsí success and increasing First Nationsí culture and language in the school system. This government provided support for four native language instructor trainees: two were hired at the end of last year and two more were hired this school year. Two more will be hired next year, bringing the total to six new native language teacher trainees.

We also included an additional half a million dollars to support the development of First Nation curriculum materials and resources. This $500,000 is over and above the other work we do on First Nation materials, resources and support for First Nation languages.

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First Nations benefit from all the programming offered by the department; however, there is some specific funding for First Nation programming, such as aboriginal language teachers, $2,280,000; YNTEP, $540,000; First Nation curriculum materials and resources, $500,000; Native Language Centre, $352,000; department staff who work directly on First Nation curriculum programming, $200,000; aboriginal language teacher trainee, $111,000, and this will rise to $200,000 on an on-going basis when all six trainees are in place; curriculum development with individual First Nations of $100,000; First Nation elders in the school, $30,000; the WNCP First Nation language, $20,000; stay-in-school initiatives, school counselling and support, $10,000; for a total of $4,143,000.

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As you can see, this governmentís 2004-05 budget made a very strong commitment to respond to the critical education needs of Yukoners and First Nations. I am pleased to say that this yearís supplementary budget is continuing that commitment.

The Department of Education is requesting a net increase of $1,286,000 in operation and maintenance expenditures. This request is made up of the following: revotes of $530,000 to enable the completion of the projects approved in last yearís school needs assessment program. Some of the projects had to be completed over the summer when the schools were not in session. We have had discussions with the Grand Chief regarding a process to make changes to the education system to better meet the needs of all Yukoners, especially First Nation students.

This government is committed to reforming education, making changes to the system that will better meet the needs and aspirations of all Yukoners, including First Nations.

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The Grand Chief and I are proposed a model similar to the Childrenís Act review and the consultations on justice. We will build on the information already gathered through the Education Act review process of 1999 and 2001 and will confirm those issues with the partners in education, but this process is not specifically about changing legislation. Rather it is about vision, about what we want the education system to accomplish. Itís about identifying whatís getting in the way of meeting our goals and removing those barriers that are getting in the way of having the education system better meet the needs and aspirations of all Yukoners, including First Nations. Right now we are waiting to hear from the Grand Chief about the nominees to the project team.

The Department of Education has taken a leadership role in the creation of the late French immersion program at Whitehorse Elementary School. The department has been committed to supporting French language programs in our schools since the mid-1970s. …cole …milie Tremblay offers French first languages. Whitehorse Elementary and F.H. Collins offer French immersion, and 18 other schools offer core French programs. The Yukon government committed to implement a late French immersion program this past fall. Heritage Canada has increased its funding contributions by $121,000, of which $115,000 had been allocated for the late French immersion program this year.

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Mr. Chair, 14 students are now enrolled for the late immersion program, and many parents have indicated an interest in enrolling their children in the program next year. We are very pleased with the positive uptake on this program as we continue our work to provide the kind of education opportunities that Yukoners need.

Mr. Chair, more Yukon students are pursuing post-secondary education opportunities. So in addition to indexing the Yukon grant, we have allocated an additional $200,000 for this fiscal year to meet this need. The departmentís budget for 2003-04 was $3,750,000, and the actual expenditures for that year totalled $3,933,000, making a shortfall of $183,000.

The Canada study grant, which is 100-percent recoverable from the federal government, is being increased by $42,000 to reflect increased demand. This money is required to meet the demand placed on the program this year. It is expected that the demand will continue at the present level. Eligible applicants include those students with permanent disabilities, high needs part-time students, women in doctoral studies and students with dependants.

This then brings me to our request for changes in the 2004-05 capital budget for the Department of Education.

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The Department of Education is requesting a net capital budget increase of $494,000. This is made up of a number of projects, including the Teslin school renovations at $146,000 for the design of the gym; the Watson Lake Secondary technology wing upgrade at $91,000; completion of an addition and upgrading the heating system for Eliza Van Bibber School at $85,000; and the Mayo community school improvements at $61,000 to do some landscaping, PA system upgrades and mezzanine guardrail modifications.

Community training funds have been increased by $500,000. This funding will be used to meet increased demands for more training in pre-employment trades and literacy. With a revote of $44,000 for projects that carried over into this year, the total increase is $544,000. These funds will help to ensure that we have a skilled workforce that enables individuals to participate in Yukonís growing economy.

The above capital supplementary budget increases are reduced by underexpenditures in some other capital projects, including funding of $325,000 for the Tantalus School replacement project, which is deferred to 2005-06. The Porter Creek Secondary School cafeteria project funding of $150,000 is deferred to 2005-06.

Over the course of the project planning, changes to the scope and delivery of these building projects meant that the building designs have not yet been finalized. Construction will begin in the summer of 2005. These projects are proceeding and will be delivered on schedule.

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This government is committed to providing the best possible education opportunities for Yukoners. This supplementary budget demonstrates our continued commitment to lifelong learning and providing Yukoners with the skills they need to take advantage of economic opportunities.

I would be pleased to answer questions on this supplementary budget or proceed to line-by-line debate at this time.

Mr. Fairclough:  † I do have questions in the Department of Education. I have probably about two monthsí worth of questions for the minister. Unfortunately, we are on the last day and probably within the last hour of debate. We on this side of the House, after the demonstration on the first day of this sitting, guessed that perhaps the Department of Education would either come up last on the list of departments that need to be debated or would come up on the last day. Yes, we were right, Mr. Chair. We are on the last day of debate on this important department.

We have asked a lot of questions to the Premier in general debate of the supplementary budget ó many questions which the Premier avoided or could not answer because he was not up to speed on issues within the department. Unfortunately, we probably donít have the time to ask the questions here but we will reserve the right to ask those questions in the spring sitting. We will have just as long of a period as we did in this sitting to ask questions in the spring sitting. Obviously, that is going to happen.

I do have questions with regard to the Carmacks school. It is unfortunate that we are this far into the sitting ó the last day ó and the issue of the Carmacks campus attached to the new school is not resolved yet. The minister made a decision; the community said no. They said no over and over again and the minister didnít resolve this issue.

I understand that there is a meeting tomorrow with the minister, the First Nation chief and council and the mayor and council. I am hoping that some resolution will come out of this.

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†Maybe, for a change, this minister will listen to the community. The Premier had an opportunity to do that. He sat down at a public meeting, he heard what the community members had to say, he came back and he either didnít relay that message to the Minister of Education or he chose not to do anything about the concerns of the community, which again is unfortunate. Because the way it is, the people in Carmacks know this and the advisory committee knows this ó half of them have resigned ó that if the decision is not made quickly, the construction of the Carmacks school may be in jeopardy to start up this coming summer. I think the earliest that it can happen would probably be in the fall ó pouring concrete and getting things ready for building.

I know the minister knows this. Iím sure he was advised by his department people who sit on the advisory committee that this could happen. So it is of importance that the minister deal with it. Why wait until after the sitting? I mean, what was the minister afraid of† ó questions in the House on this matter? Does he have an agenda already and a decision already made for his trip to Carmacks? I wonder if that is it. Obviously weíre going to get to the bottom of this by tomorrow.

Iím hoping that the minister will make some room for public input on this matter because it is about the children. Weíre not talking about the school here; weíre talking about the College attached to the school, and I hope the minister doesnít get that mixed up because he got that mixed up time and time again when asked questions in this House.

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I will ask that question, Mr. Chair, and I hope the minister does have some answers for me. I have concerns about the issue that was raised in the community of Mayo ó the education issues there ó and whether or not the minister and his department have brought any resolutions or satisfaction to the people who have brought forward these concerns to him. I know the minister said that there has been a reduction of $325,000 in the design of the Tantalus School in Carmacks and that it would be carried on into next year. Well, we started this sitting on October 21. When was the final date of putting together this supplementary budget? Was it two weeks prior to September 21, or was it a month prior to that? Anyway, the minister knew what was going to take place and that perhaps the final design of the Tantalus School will not be presented, and the costs of consultation and the travel and expenses and so on for the advisory committee may not all add up to $700,000 as was originally indicated in the budget. That is a bit of a concern to me, and I want the project to go ahead in Carmacks. I think the minister does too, but his inaction is causing this to fail for next summer. We, the community of Carmacks, cannot afford that. The meeting tomorrow is an important meeting. I understand itís not a public meeting any more. It was first announced that it was going to be a public meeting with the village council ó the mayor and council ó and the First Nation chief and council.

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It is a closed meeting, and I would like to hear from the minister what he hopes to accomplish in this meeting.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   To start with, some of the comments made by the member opposite about this government saving education to the end ó I merely respond to that comment by saying that there is a positive side to every issue. The positive here is that the best was saved for the last. The different programs that come forward are usually set up by the House leader.

I am pleased to be able to discuss education. It is unfortunate that we didnít have a lot more time to do it; however, thatís the way the opposition also schedule their events. It also relies a lot on how they conduct their business here. Itís not just on this side.

With regard to the funding for Tantalus School, this government was, and still is, committed to ensuring that that infrastructure is completed. The monies have been secured and will remain secured for that project. When it comes to dealing with the citizens of Carmacks, I would have to state that this has been somewhat of a difficult journey, but I believe that because we are committed, we will prevail.

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The citizens of Carmacks will be very satisfied at the end of the day that their demands were met and that this government always holds true to its promises. When we make a promise, weíll do our best to keep it. I think the citizens of Carmacks will be supportive of the infrastructure thatís going to be built in the community. The purpose of meeting with the people in Carmacks is to have a look at the schematics and designs of the building and to try to discuss it. Iím quite sure, I feel very confident, that there will be a very positive solution to this issue in Carmacks. Again, I have to state that itís this governmentís ability to ensure that when we make a commitment, weíll do our best to ensure that itís fulfilled. We promised the people in Carmacks a new infrastructure for their education system, and I believe theyíll be very pleased with whatís being proposed.

Mr. Fairclough:   I thank the minister for that answer. He said that heíd be taking the drawings of the school that the architect has done up so far and going over them. Is the minister there to seek direction from the community about the whole College campus issue?

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Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Mr. Chair, I believe I stated earlier that the purpose of the meeting was to have open discussion with the chief and council and the mayor and council, and Iím quite positive at this time that we all appear to be speaking from the same page. So I believe that things will work out positively.

Mr. Fairclough:   I understand that. And I know that the minister knows that everybody wants a school there. But the issue that is holding things up right now is the College campus. So Iím hoping that the minister listens to the community carefully. Iíve heard them. Iíve heard many groups out of the community. Iíve heard a couple of people, anyway, from that community who support what the minister has decided on. But that was only two people I have run into from the whole community. So Iím hoping that the minister goes there with an open mind, and I look forward to the results of that meeting.

I would like to ask a question about the training trust funds: there is an increase of $544,000 that is a revote from a previous budget. The minister said that itís about getting employment-ready and so on. One of the big employment opportunities in the territory that could be coming down the road is a pipeline, and the Yukon Party has talked about ensuring that Yukoners are job-ready and pipeline-ready. How much of this training trust fund money is going to ensure that we are pipeline-ready through this funding?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Well, when we speak of the $500,000 increase, it was basically brought forward from demands of different communities for pre-employment training, literacy and an introduction to some of the trades. But with regard to the pipeline, I believe it would be basically up to some of the communities that are going to be affected along the route to identify some of those issues. When those needs arise and the communities have identified them, then this government would be prepared to look at the requests that will come in from different citizens along the route.

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Mr. Fairclough:   The minister said, ďWhen those needs ariseĒ, the government will look into it. Well, all the communities in the territory want to be job-ready ó not just the ones along the route. They have worked with the College campuses in the past. Some programs were very successful, and it was through the training trust fund. For example, doing smaller training sessions, doing seismic work or working in the oil and gas industry ó they were guaranteed jobs at the end. Thatís how good the programs were.

They went Outside to Alberta and worked, but those were very short training sessions they had. There is nothing big, in any way, that I can see through the College campuses to ensure people have more than just labour jobs, I suppose, when it comes to these megaprojects.

What discussions did the Minister of Education have with the Department of Economic Development to ensure that Education can handle all the training that is needed ó right now, today ó to get people working. It could take years, or be years in the making. What discussions has the minister had with that department to ensure that the department identifies money and resources to deal with this matter?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   When this government first came to power, the training trust fund was at a very low level. This government increased the funding to $1.5 million. Again, I think that demonstrates that this government is committed to working with trades within the communities. The government directed that at least $500,000 of the $1.5 million be provided for pre-employment and trades training.

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Here are some examples of the training provided: pre-employment piping trades program, $65,463; pre-apprentice trades preparation program, $53,446; pre-employment welding in Whitehorse, $75,928; Ross River employment readiness training, $17,549; Dawson pre-employment carpentry, $83,359; Carmacks level I apprenticeship carpentry, $55,000; highways on-job training, $13,000; petroleum industry training services for social assistance clients, $4,087; floor hand rig training for social assistance clients, $8,220; Liard First Nation log-building training, $40,000; Skills Yukon Canada, $45,000; for a total of $560,000. This year, on a one-time basis, this government has committed $500,000 more, which brings it to $2 million. Again, the extra $500,000 was brought forward on demand.

Mr. Fairclough:   The minister didnít answer the question so I assume there havenít been any discussions with the Minister of Economic Development to this date. The training trust funds used to be at $3 million.

I would like to ask a question about the Mayo education issues and about the Na Cho Nyšk Dun report and the working group. I asked this question in the past and the minister gave an answer. That was a long time ago. I would like to know what the department has been doing to resolve the education issues that have been brought forward in Mayo and when he expects some resolution.

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Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe the issue the member opposite was referring to was a report that was submitted by the Government of Na Cho Nyšk Dun, and the answer still remains the same with regard to that. It was a report for that government, and I honour that governmentís report. At the same time, we share in the concerns of the First Nation of Na Cho Nyšk Dun about the success of First Nation students in the Yukon school system. As a government, we want to do everything we can to build a stronger working partnership, because we believe that this will result in better success rates for First Nation students. Again, Mr. Chair, I have to, for the record, state very firmly that this government is committed to all the citizens in Mayo. Again, we will continue to work in the best interests of everyone. The way it is in society is that sometimes youíre going to please a lot of the people, and sometimes you wonít please a lot of people, but the commitment this government has is to continue to work toward a positive solution to whatever barriers or obstacles come up with regard to education in any community.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Fairclough:   Itís a First Nation report, but itís about education. The minister has a responsibility for all the Yukon, and I hope that he doesnít forget that just because another government brings in a report that points a finger at the Yukon government. I would like to ask a question about money spent on First Nation curriculum. What has been developed to date so far?

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Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   In comment to what the member opposite started out with regarding the report from Na Cho Nyšk Dun, he must appreciate that our government ó or their government, as far as that goes ó canít be held accountable or responsible for reports that other governments produce. We on this side of the House respect the fact that Na Cho Nyšk Dun is a government and we will honour and treat them with that respect.

When we talk about curriculum for First Nations ó $500,000 had been budgeted to develop First Nation curriculum materials and resources using Yukon-based materials. It means that all students will learn about the important role of First Nations in the Yukon.

The Department of Education has an aboriginal curriculum team that designs territory-wide First Nation curriculum. A First Nation verification committee then reviews the curriculum before it is implemented. At the present time ó this year ó a land claims and self-government unit will be piloted in grade 5 social studies classes. Materials for grades 9 and 11 land claims and self-government units and a First Nations 12 course will be developed this year. At this time, a verification process is going on with the grade 5 social studies classes.

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We will be providing $150,000 for the 2004-05 school year to pilot this program. The one Iím talking about now is the First Voices language program, for which this government recently developed a partnership with three First Nations in the Yukon to pilot this project ó again, respecting the advances other First Nations from other provinces have made and who are willing to share some of their programs with the Yukon, which appear to have a very good success rate.

The three native languages will be involved in the pilot project using the First Voices aboriginal language program. This Web-based teaching and development tool is, in my opinion, a very beneficial technology that can be used by First Nations. The nice thing about this program is that one will be able to sit at a computer in their own home, or in a friendís home or wherever. As long as you can get the Internet, you will be able to access your language, and see how itís written and hear an elder pronouncing the words.

We will be providing $150,000 for the 2004-05 school year to pilot this program, and it will support the Han language of the TríondŽk HwŽchíin First Nation and the Robert Service School in Dawson City, the Southern Tutchone language of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the Elijah Smith School in Whitehorse and the Tagish language in Carcross and Tagish.

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The First Voices system was well-received by native language instructors, students and others interested in aboriginal language. When the program was demonstrated in Whitehorse last February, I was very confident that it would make a significant contribution to the revitalization of aboriginal languages. Again, I canít stress how important it is to actually get some of this language documented now from elders who are available and capable of giving all the words the real proper pronunciation. My belief is that once this is developed and logged in these computers, the language will have a much, much higher ability to survive.

Mr. Fairclough:   I asked about First Nation curriculum development.

Iíd like to ask a question about education reform. I would like to know what the guidelines are and how they fit into the Education Act review.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe right from the very first time we had discussions around this issue and the Education Act review, this government stated that all wonít be lost in what was done with regard to the Education Act review and that a lot of the comments gathered in that process will be reviewed as a starting point for the reform of the education process in the Yukon.

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And again I will confirm that the Grand Chief and I have had several discussions on this. There is a process now that is going to somewhat mirror the Childrenís Act review. We will have a working team, we will have a policy analyst team and we will have an executive committee made up of the Grand Chief, me as a minister, and other individuals who have been identified from Kwanlin Dun and the Liard First Nations. So at this time we are waiting for a response from the Grand Chief as to whom they will be appointing to the working committee and the policy analyst committee.

Ms. Duncan:   I just have a few questions for the minister in this particular department. There were a number of underexpenditures in capital in the public schools branch ó for example, $150,000 less on the Porter Creek expansion. I understand the underexpenditure for Tantalus School would be a result of the planning work not being completed. The soccer field replacement upgrade is also underexpended, and for Johnson Elementary School in Watson Lake there have been underexpenditures and modular classrooms. Would the minister just provide for the record an explanation as to why these funds werenít fully spent? Is it construction issues, late tendering ó whatís the issue with each of these?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Most of these were just a lack of completed design, I think. When we talk about Porter Creek Secondary, for example, the original idea had changed. The school wanted to extend the industrial arts class, but then they changed their idea from that to a couple of classrooms and modifying the cafeteria area so that they can teach a culinary course there as opposed to just having a cafeteria.

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The other issues that the member opposite raised were just changes that were going to be taking place and some discussions were still focusing around the Johnson Elementary School, for example, with people in the communities. So, it is basically a bit of a waiting game.

Again, with the soccer fields, there came in a very high request for funding that we havenít really dealt with yet, so we are in discussions to determine what exactly is going to be done with the soccer fields.

Ms. Duncan:   I am going to ask the minister, in response to his answer, to lobby for additional capital funding. Porter Creek, for example, needed not only the cafeteria expansion; their industrial classroom is not adequate. It needs substantial improvement. Students were using Yukon College in the original design, and this all goes back to the Yukon Party design of that particular school and changing and deciding it was going to be a high school.

There needs to be significant capital money spent on Porter Creek Secondary. There needs to be significant capital money spent on the soccer fields and planned expenditure. It is a continual complaint of parents about the use of the soccer fields and what poor shape they are in.

I note that itís the old wing of Johnson Elementary, so it has been around for some time. My understanding is that significant capital work is needed there as well.

So these are underexpenditures, and I appreciate that maybe the planning work hasnít already been done. I would just ask the minister to lobby his colleagues and those who are present.

In listening to this debate, I would like to lobby for additional capital funding for public schools, in light of the tremendous financial resources available to this government.

Would the minister please advise the House what the final anticipated cost of the Carmacks school is? I would add that I would hope the minister would see his way clear to hearing the views of the community on the Carmacks school.

Our schools are fundamental parts of our community. They are incredibly important places. For many, they are safe places. In addition, of course, to being places of learning, they are areas for physical activity to take place. We worry about our childrenís health, and I would encourage the minister, as well, in the strongest possible terms to hear what the community has to say about their vision and their direction for their school.

Could the minister just advise the House what the final anticipated cost of the replacement of the Tantalus School is?

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Hon. Mr. Edzerza:  With regard to the Porter Creek Secondary, it is work in progress, and I can assure the member opposite that I have been lobbying very hard, ever since I was appointed to this position, to increase issues within education right across the board. I have been successful, to date, in being able to increase the Education budget by $9 million plus. The work in the Porter Creek Secondary School ó† I thank the member opposite for having that interest there because, like this government, we are totally committed to ensuring that every education hub is an enjoyable environment. We must always remember that having a nice environment in which youth and adults can continue their education is vitally important.

When we talk about the Carmacks school, I have worked exceptionally hard to secure that budget for that infrastructure. I know, before this government was elected, there were plans of just putting an addition onto that facility. Upon discussions I had with the community, it changed from that to a whole new infrastructure. As a minister I did have to defend that position just because there were probably some years left in the gym and the addition that was already on the school.

I can assure the members opposite and this House that, as a minister, I have not sat idle and that there was an extensive amount of input from me and citizens in Carmacks to really do the best we could for the community to ensure that there is ó and will be for many years ó a very, very beautiful facility that will really meet the education demands in the community of Carmacks.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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Ms. Duncan:   That was not an answer to the question of what the anticipated cost is for the replacement of the Tantalus School. The minister didnít answer the question. Does he wish to do so now?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I didnít leave that part out intentionally; I just forgot to add it in. With expenditures that have been spent to date, meaning the purchase of the land and cleaning up of the land where the school is going to be built, we are approaching the $9-million mark.

Ms. Duncan:   The issue around the Yukon government funding a seat at the veterinary college in Saskatoon ó there would be correspondence by the department with the college, as well as information the department has available about that particular seat at that particular institution. Would the minister be prepared to send over the correspondence and documentation on that particular initiative?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   At this point in time, I will take that request under advisement.

Ms. Duncan:   I appreciate the ministerís prompt consideration of that request and response to it. Just a final question: there was a discussion in the Legislature about the use of lock-down drills. I want to emphasize to the minister that my concern is not that the drills are in existence; itís how the drills were being conducted in some instances. I specifically asked the minister to have a discussion with principals and school councillors at the meeting of school councils about lock-down drills and how they were done.

Did the minister have a discussion with the principals and school councils as I had requested?

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Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   At this point in time, this government does recognize that these different programs are checked out within the schools, and these drills that take place are to provide student safety. I have advised the department to have discussions with the principals and the school councils to see if these drills are current. When I do make my rounds to the school councils ó which I have done for the first two years and intend to do again ó I will maybe ask the school councils if this is an issue and ask for some input on whether or not they see it as a benefit, or if something can be changed of if itís working the way it is.

Chair:   Are there any further questions in general debate? Weíll then proceed with line-by-line.

Ms. Duncan:   I would request the unanimous consent of Committee of the Whole to deem all lines in the Department of Education, Vote 3, cleared or carried, as required.

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 3, Department of Education, cleared or carried

Chair:   Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 3, Department of Education, cleared or carried, as required. Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair:   Unanimous consent has been granted.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $1,286,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures in the amount of $494,000 agreed to

Department of Education agreed to

 

Chair:   I understand that the next department is Community Services, Vote 51.

 

Department of Community Services

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Mr. Cardiff:   Mr. Chair, I realize weíre waiting for the officials, but time is short today and Iíd like to get a few questions in before the day is over.

When we left off in this department, I was having a conversation with the minister about the situation in Dawson, and I think if I remember rightly I requested the minister, and the minister seemed to be okay with the idea that he would provide the information to me. What I was looking for was the contract, the terms of reference and letters of instruction for the firm that was doing the forensic audit in Dawson. The minister said that they were public documents, and that he would see that I received them. Itís several days later, if not weeks, since I last talked with the minister about this, and I have yet to receive them. So I would like some assurance from the acting minister that these are available and will be provided.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   †Well, thank you, Mr. Chair. As the Minister of Community Services has already forwarded to the members opposite, he did commit to bringing that information forward. I believe that the Department of Community Services is working on that information. It takes awhile to complete, as the members opposite are fully aware. But I believe the minister did make a commitment.

Mr. Cardiff:   I would appreciate receiving it in the near future. It would have been nice to have had it before today, actually, so that we could have had a chance to look at it, and maybe we would have had some further questions with regard to the situation in Dawson.

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I have just a couple more questions actually. A long-standing issue with the Department of Community Services in Mount Lorne has been the need to change the sport and recreation regulations to allow for the community association in Mount Lorne to be able to receive the salary grant that is provided in that department.

I have a letter here dated December 5, 2002, that came from the community association to the minister; it explains that this has been an issue for a long time. It was an issue for the former Minister of Community Services. I have a commitment from the minister in the Legislature dated April 13, 2004, where he said that the community association would qualify. Iíve had several conversations with the minister this fall during this sitting, some as recent as last week. What I would like to know is will the order-in-council be on the Cabinet agenda in December so that this problem can be rectified?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   As the member opposite has acknowledged, our government certainly acknowledged that unincorporated communities have requested additional resources to meet the rising costs of providing recreation services to their communities. With respect to the recreation regulations that the member opposite has made reference to, as I understand, they will soon be coming to Cabinet in due course and that some time within the new year we will be taking a look at them. The minister will be bringing them forward to Cabinet in due course.

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Mr. Cardiff:   This may take longer than I thought. ďIn due courseĒ is not sufficient. This has been an issue for the community association of Mount Lorne for over three years, and governments have been well aware of the situation. I can send the acting minister over ó in fact, Iíll send the acting minister over a copy of the letter, dated December 5, 2002, that explains what the problem is. Itís a simple fix. The regulations were changed to include Mount Lorne and Upper Liard, but itís because of the distance from a municipality with full-time recreational staff that they donít qualify. So itís a matter of changing that one thing.

Now, Iíve been asking on behalf of my constituents for two years for a simple change to that part of the regulations. I know there was a review done, and I donít know what the other changes to the sport and recreation regulations are and what is taking so much time, but I have had more commitments on this issue from the minister than I have had commitments for anything else, just about. Iíve been assured that this is going to happen.

Now, the community association is going to be stuck here pretty soon. Theyíre going to be in a bind. There may be events that may not be able to take place, and that would be a shame. If there are activities that happen there, annual activities ó I might add ó that happen there, then it will be a problem. I donít want the answer, ďIt will be in due course.Ē I want to know when itís going to be on the Cabinet agenda. Can the acting minister tell me that?

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Hon. Ms. Taylor:   †As the member opposite can fully appreciate, we do our very best to expedite matters of all sorts in each and every department. I know that the Minister of Community Services has had a number of discussions with the hamlet council and, as I mentioned earlier, Cabinet will be looking at the formalized changes to the policy and we will be bringing those to Cabinet as soon as we are able to.

I donít know how much clearer I can be with the member opposite, but rest assured that there is a commitment there that we will be looking at these formalized changes in due course.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, the only course out there that I know of is the Annie Lake golf course, and maybe there wonít be anybody there to do the maintenance on it next year.

I asked the minister, and I told her that due course is not good enough. But I will go back to the community association meeting in January, Iíll clip the Hansard and I will show them the commitment of this government and I will take them a copy of their letter from December 5, 2002, and all the correspondence that Iíve had with the minister on this issue. Itís a very simple thing to change but they are busier looking for ways to partner with the private sector on seniors housing and provide luxury accommodation for seniors that they canít really afford.

I will leave that one; I can live with that answer; I donít know if my constituents can.

I have one more question. Could the acting minister explain: in Community Services in community development, under community infrastructure, there is about $7 million that is not being spent on infrastructure projects. Could the minister provide an explanation to the House of which projects were planned to go ahead and which projects are now not happening?

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Hon. Ms. Taylor:   †Unfortunately, the $7 million is in limbo somewhat thanks to the federal government. Of course, despite many occasions where the federal government, our own MP, has announced, and re-announced and re-announced that these initiatives will be taking place, we have yet to see the actual cheque in the mail. Our money is on the table, but we are still waiting for a formalized word from the federal government, which we are anticipating will be any time soon.

With respect to the Canada strategic infrastructure fund, there are a couple of projects there that were identified, and we have identified as priorities the Whitehorse waterfront, as well as the Carcross waterfront ó those two projects. In addition, the municipal rural infrastructure fund is application-driven, so there are no specific projects that have been pre-identified. Once the money is in place, I would assume that the applications would be flowing through.

Ms. Duncan:   I thank the acting minister. Iím just going to ask a couple of questions. If the minister has the information at her fingertips, Iíd appreciate the answer; if not, Iíll be happy to write to the minister and ask him for some detail on this. Thereís $140,000 thatís recovered in the community development line for sport. Thereís also $13 million for fire management. Iím assuming that the $13 million is our bill to Canada for this summer. Whatís the $140,000 recovery? Itís page 2-3 of this particular budget.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   †As I understand, the $140,000 is fully recoverable from the federal government. Itís for the Best Ever program that was identified as part of the decade of sports and culture and itís to enhance and build capacity in our sporting community throughout the communities. I believe thatís what the member opposite is referring to.

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Ms. Duncan:   It is, and if I might make a 10-second pitch that the Best Ever program has to be for all sports, not solely the Canada Winter Games sports and that there is a trend toward focusing all our sport and recreation dollars on Canada Winter Games sports to the detriment of some of the other sports in the Yukon.

So I would just ask the minister, as acting minister and in her Cabinet discussions with her colleague, to be mindful that we donít solely focus our energies on Canada Winter Games sports, that there are others that Yukoners excel at, and Iím thinking in particular of the sport that Iím involved in and am very familiar with, of course, and that is our swim team here in Whitehorse and MacKenzie Downing in particular, who would be eligible for Best Ever funding, provided it applies to all sports and not just the Canada Winter Games sports ó Alexandra Gabor. These are both athletes we canít lose sight of, and thatís just one sport. There are many, many others that arenít Canada Winter Games sports that we have to be mindful of. I appreciate the minister listening to my pitch on that particular initiative.

Could I just have, if the minister has it at her fingertips, the status on the Carmacks sewage treatment issues? Whatís the date for tender, request for qualifications? And again, if the minister doesnít have this information, Iím happy to write to the minister and get the information upon his return. Iíd just like a timeline of the activities in that area.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   †With respect to the member oppositeís comments regarding the Best Ever program, we too on this side of this House also fully appreciate and fully support the full development of all sports in the territory. As I understand it, Yukon had submitted a four-year proposal to the federal government for funding sport development projects, including aboriginal sport development. And, of course, these would include the specific sports that would go along with the Canada Winter Games 2007, basically to enable more Yukoners, especially people in the rural Yukon, to participate in the opportunities for skill and leadership development preparation for the games.

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And I also understand that we have applied for additional dollars, as well, from this program to the federal government so that we can enhance our responsibilities or our work in this regard.

With respect to the sewage initiative pertaining to Carmacks, we are currently working on a workplan with the Village of Carmacks. We anticipate the regulatory process will probably be undertaken sometime next year. Then the tendering process will probably be driven by timelines accordingly.

Chair:   Are there any further questions in general debate?

Hearing no further questions, we will now proceed with line-by-line.

Ms. Duncan:   Iím getting to know the lines, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, I would request the unanimous consent of Committee of the Whole to deem all lines in Vote 51, Department of Community Services, cleared or carried, as required.

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 51, Department of Community Services, cleared or carried

Chair:   Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 51, Department of Community Services, cleared or carried, as required. Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair:   There is unanimous consent.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $15,228,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures underexpenditure of $8,593,000 cleared

Department of Community Services agreed to

Chair:   That concludes Vote 51, Department of Community Services.

I understand the next department for examination is Department of Justice, Vote 8.

 

Department of Justice ó continued

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Mr. Cardiff:   When we left off on December 9 ó Iíd like to refer the minister to page 3607 ó I put several requests in the Blues, and Iíd be happy to receive those. I see the minister has his speaking notes, so we can count on 20 minutes, so Iím probably going to have to sit down. I put those requests on the record, and I look forward to receiving the answers.

I have one more question for the minister. Earlier today in Question Period, in response to a question ó I think Iím pretty clear about the concern I have and the concern of workers and inmates about safety. It doesnít matter what the minister wants to say about whatís happening up there with respect to the fire marshalís report and all the activity thatís going on, there are still security and health and safety issues for inmates and workers.

In his answer to me in Question Period today, the minister stated that there was a restructuring of the workforce happening at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. If the minister can incorporate that into the prepared notes he has, Iíll sit down. Iím willing to listen to what he has to say, but Iíd really like him to clarify what he said in Question Period.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   To start with, I want to assure the member opposite that this governmentís main goal, at the end of the day, is to replace the Whitehorse Correctional Centre facility with a new structure. This government is aware of the issues at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, and have done things to rectify and ensure the safety of inmates.

The government is also concerned about the staff and recognizes that it is critical to have people who are happy at their workplace.

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We will do what we can to ensure in the interim, while the corrections consultation is taking place, that the best interests of the staff are looked after.

I rise today to respond to the questions raised by the Member for Mount Lorne on Thursday, December 9, during debate.† First of all, the member asked about the Family Violence Prevention Act. As you know, the act was implemented in 1999 and its purpose is to assist victims of family violence by providing three levels of protection orders, including an emergency intervention order.

This legislation represented a significant change in the response to family violence in the Yukon by focusing on the needs of victims, something the Criminal Code does not do. Since this legislation was a new way of dealing with family violence, it was intended from the beginning to review the effectiveness of this legislation.

The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family was contracted to conduct the review. The Family Violence Prevention Act review was publicly released in the fall of 2002. It is generally a very positive report on the legislation and its implementation; however, the review does contain several recommendations to further improve the administration and enforcement of the act and to raise public awareness on family violence issues in the Yukon.

There are several initiatives underway that address the recommendations aimed at improving agency cooperation, public education and awareness of family violence issues in the Yukon. For example, the victim services family violence prevention unit conducts regular education sessions in communities with both community members and RCMP officers who are new to the Yukon about the nature and purpose of the act.

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They have also prepared a self-teaching CD-ROM that can be used by RCMP officers until they are able to attend a formal training session. Lastly, the unit has begun a survey of its clients to help better identify their needs and the types of services that are required. This includes victims of domestic violence.

There were other recommendations contained in the report that will require amendments to the legislation to bring them into effect. At this time, I cannot state whether all the proposed legislative reforms will be put forward. However, I can confirm that we will be considering and consulting with the various stakeholders on all of them. A workplan for this consultation is now being developed. We appreciate that the consultation on the proposed changes to the act will take place during the early part of this coming year with a view to tabling any amendments in the fall of 2005 sitting of the Legislature.

The member also asked me to provide current statistics on the use of emergency intervention orders under the legislation, and I can now advise that, between November 1, 2002, and October 31, 2003, there were 16 emergency intervention orders ordered, and from November 1, 2003, to October 31, 2004, there were seven.

With regard to the corrections consultation, the member opposite asked if there was a workplan in place and asked for a list of stakeholder groups that will be consulted, as well as for me to explain what the objectives of the consultation are. The project team for the corrections consultation has just recently been assembled and the office opened. The project team will be supervised by an executive committee consisting of me as the Minister of Justice, the Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief and Kwanlin Dun and Kaska representatives. The project team is now in the process of developing the detailed consultation plan, including the list of organizations and people it will be seeking input from.

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As such, I cannot provide this list to the member opposite at this time, but I would be happy to give him that information in a letter once the consultation plan is completed in January. I would also like to be clear that corrections consultation is public consultation and accordingly the list of stakeholders is fluid. This government is committed to partnerships with First Nations and others to better meet the needs of offenders, victims and communities through the corrections system; therefore, I am very pleased to speak to the objectives of the corrections consultation, which are to consult with Yukoners about the challenges and opportunities for delivering corrections programs and services that meet the changing needs of offenders, victims and communities.

We also plan to identify problems and possibilities by focusing on the issues facing offenders, victims, families and communities, the challenges and opportunities in corrections programs and services, the options for delivering programs and services and the roles and capacity of communities and the corrections system. Finally, the corrections consultation will help us to develop a corrections action plan for delivering programs and services to meet the changing needs of offenders, victims, families and communities.

At the end of the day last Thursday, the member opposite indicated that there are issues with inmates and worker safety at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. I would like to assure the members of this Legislature that we have interim safety measures in place at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre until such time as it is replaced. The most important interim measure we are taking is to renovate the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. In December 2002, the fire marshal ordered that specific renovations be made to Whitehorse Correctional Centre in order to improve the overall safety for offenders and staff. Work is underway right now on those renovations. The design work was completed in March 2004, and the tender for the actual renovations was awarded to a local contractor on June 15, 2004. There have been some recent scheduling changes, but the work is now expected to be completed in March 2005.

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In addition to programming and training for inmates, we also provide training programs for staff working at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. In fact, the Department of Justice 2004-05 supplementary budget includes $82,500 for more staff training in order to maintain basic safety and security at the facility.

All correctional officers take the corrections officer basic training course. This 120-hour course provides training in areas such as inmate programming, security, First Nations culture, community corrections and first aid. These are core skills that our corrections officers must master.

All security staff also receive training to ensure that they are equipped to respond to emergency situations. They are trained in the use of verbal and physical force, the application of pepper spray, the use of handcuffs, and how to conduct searches. Team leaders and senior corrections officers take advance courses to improve their supervisory and conflict resolution skills, as well as to learn how to deal with offenders who have substance abuse problems.

Lastly, other courses offered to staff are suicide intervention, including assessment tools and the referral process; stress management, including substance abuse awareness; vicarious trauma; risk management and due diligence. As well, there is professional development in general, which includes managing stress, substance abuse awareness refresher, vicarious trauma, program recertification and motivational interviewing.

Our goal is to ensure that staff have the skills and knowledge to ensure that offenders receive the type of service they require and that the institution is secure and humane.

I look forward to continuing the debate on the Department of Justice.

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Mr. Cardiff:   I appreciate the answers and I thank the minister for providing those. I will definitely be reviewing the Blues. I appreciate the commitments that he made to get the information that he didnít have or that is going to be coming, but I didnít hear a clarification on the comment he made in the Legislature earlier today about restructuring the workforce. It sounded like there was a lot of training and stuff going on at the correctional facility. Restructuring usually means that there is something happening with the workforce ó either there is an increase or they are moving people around. I was just wondering if the minister could clarify that.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   For the member opposite, I can confirm that the Department of Justice is continuing to work on stabilizing staff at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre by creating permanent positions and improving training and working conditions for staff. Again, this government does recognize the importance of having staff that have the opportunity to advance in their workplace and to ensure that, when they go to work, they have a good working environment. These are necessary steps that will help to ensure that the offenders receive the help that they need now, plus itís going to ensure that the staff will be looked after to the best interest of all the staff.† The biggest changes will be permanently staffing all the vacancies that exist and changing some job descriptions so that they have more of an emphasis on case management, programming and community reintegration.

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Again, all these steps are to make improvements to the existing structures within the workforce at Whitehorse Correctional Centre and also to ensure that the inmates are receiving fair treatment.

Chair:   Are there any further questions?

We will go into line-by-line.

Mr. Cardiff:   Mr. Chair, I would like to request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 8, Department of Justice, cleared or carried, as required.

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 8, Department of Justice, cleared or carried

Chair:   Mr. Cardiff has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 8, Department of Justice, cleared or carried, as required. Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair:   There is unanimous consent.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $586,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures in the amount of $1,132,000 agreed to

Department of Justice agreed to

Chair:   That concludes Vote 8, Department of Justice.

†I understand weíre now proceeding with the Executive Council Office, which is Vote 2. It has been requested that we recess to allow the officials to arrive. Five minutes.

 

Recess

 

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Executive Council Office ó continued

Chair:   Order please. Weíll continue with the penultimate department, Vote 2, the Executive Council Office. Is there any further general debate on the Executive Council Office?

Ms. Duncan:   Did the Premier bring any information back with respect to Mr. Lawsonís contracts or the travel costs as requested?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Thanks to the supreme efforts of the officials in the Executive Council Office, I have here before me the information the member opposite was seeking. One contract, 2003-04, worth $6,800. One contract, 2004-05, at a total of $8,406. Itís just handwritten.

Ms. Duncan:   Iíll have a look at the figures when I review Hansard. Does the Premier have the travel costs?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   We are still working on this. Weíre not at the year-end yet. So far for this period we are less than 2003-04 and less than 2002-03. Iím sorry; I correct that ó less than 2003-04. The total to date ó in territory, outside territory ó is $101,635. Itís important to note that the 2002-03 was an election year where travel costs typically would be lower, because thereís a period of time where there really isnít any ministerial travel as there are no ministers.

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Ms. Duncan:   What is the Yukon Partyís practice with respect to recording travel? For example, the NDP government recorded ministerial travel as a departmental expense, and the Liberal government recorded all ministerial travel within Executive Council Office. Ministerial and executive assistant travel was all recorded in Executive Council Office. It was not recorded in individual departments. Is travel by ministers and their assistants ó Iím talking about non-public servants ó all recorded in Executive Council Office, or is it recorded by the department?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   It is my understanding that all travel is recorded within the Executive Council Office.

Ms. Duncan:   The Premier was reading from a briefing note. Would he be prepared to send that information over for tabling so that both opposition parties could have a look at it?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Yes, I can do that now. Iíll just get a page to photocopy ó how many do we need? Itís on its way.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate in the Executive Council Office?

Hearing no further general debate, weíll proceed with line by line.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I would request the unanimous consent of Committee of the Whole to deem all lines in Vote 2, Executive Council Office, cleared or carried, as required.

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 2, Executive Council Office, cleared or carried

Chair:   Ms. Duncan has requested unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 2, Executive Council Office, cleared or carried, as required. Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   There is unanimous consent.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures underexpenditure of $150,000 cleared

On Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures in the amount of $382,000 agreed to

Executive Council Office agreed to

Chair:   That concludes Vote 2, Executive Council Office.

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The Chair understands that the next department that we will review is the Housing Corporation. We will continue on with Vote 18, the Yukon Housing Corporation.

 

Yukon Housing Corporation

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   It is my pleasure to present the 2004-05 supplementary budget for the Yukon Housing Corporation. The corporationís mission is to provide affordable housing in the territory and to help Yukoners resolve their housing issues. The Yukon Housing Corporation continues to upgrade staff and social housing units in the Yukon communities. These improvements not only provide better housing, but they also create jobs and provide incentives to attract and retain employees.

The corporation maintains housing offices in 10 Yukon communities, including Whitehorse. The corporation continues to maintain a respectful and cooperative environment throughout the territory.

The Yukon Housing Corporation continues to assist Yukon First Nations to improve housing conditions in Whitehorse and in outlying communities as well. The major areas identified include the general administration of housing, improving structural conditions of individual units, minimizing energy consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Yukon Housing staff continues to collaborate with Yukon First Nations housing departments to remove barriers that impede housing repair and new home construction. The focus is primarily on developing accurate and efficient workplans that identify actual housing needs within a specified community. These workplans can then be used to access additional federal funding, where needed.

The Yukon Housing Corporation has also supported the project management of four housing units in Beaver Creek under an agreement with DIAND. These are fully recoverable funds. This project will promote a better quality of life for White River First Nation residents.

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It has also strengthened the relationship between the Yukon government and the White River First Nation. This project is an example of what can be done to help First Nations with capacity building.

Yukon Housing Corporation has recently completed the evaluation of its social housing portfolio, and I have already provided members of this House with copies of the report. The Yukon is the first jurisdiction in Canada to meet the evaluation criteria obligations of the social housing agreement. Iím very pleased with the conclusions that report comes to. Overall, the consultants conducting the evaluation found that the program is meetings its goals and its objectives. Furthermore, they found that the housing units are in acceptable states of repair. The board of directors has reviewed the recommendations from the report and has approved a plan of action to promptly address the recommendations.

Mr. Chair, we have provided $98,000 capital dollars in this supplementary to start the implementation of the affordable housing program. Through extensive consultation with CMHC, the corporation has been able to negotiate greater flexibility toward the kinds of projects that can be funded under the agreement. The affordable housing agreement was recently amended to enable federal funding for affordable rental units and affordable home ownership units built by private non-government and non-profit sector organizations, including individuals. Home ownership units financed by the corporation also qualify. Mr. Speaker, the corporation is in the process of finalizing program criteria for approval by the board of directors so the projects can begin here in Whitehorse and in the rural communities. The Yukon Housing Corporation hopes to launch this program early in the new year.

Mr. Chair, the Yukon Housing Corporation is sensitive to the needs of this territoryís senior population. The corporation recognizes the need to assist this growing group with their housing needs, and we have invested in the senior housing management fund, and a substantial portion of the affordable housing agreement funding will also be directed toward meeting the needs of the territoryís ageing population.

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The affordable housing program will provide incentives for builders, including those from the private sector, to make use of designs that will accommodate persons with disabilities and mobility challenges. The corporation is working with the Yukon Council on Aging and the Yukon Council on Disabilities to develop appropriate designs in this area. From yard maintenance programs to accommodating home mortgages and home repair programs, the Yukon Housing Corporation has been, and will continue to be, attentive to seniorsí needs.

The Yukon Housing Corporation is also pleased to support the 2007 Canada Winter Games. We will be making a contribution of $9,000 in the 2004-05 fiscal year to the Canada Games Host Society to assist with their staff accommodation requirements.

The corporation continues to develop green initiatives. We have offered, and will continue to offer, programs that emphasize environmental priorities. By building energy-efficient homes, we are reducing greenhouse gases in the process. The corporation advises clients on energy-related issues and supports those who use modern energy standards. The amended affordable housing agreement stipulates that units constructed through the program must be built to energy-efficient standards approved by the corporation. We continue to support federal energy initiatives, such as EnerGuide and R2000.

The Yukon Housing Corporation is working jointly with the building inspection branches of the Yukon government and the City of Whitehorse to implement the EnerGuide for new houses program. This program consists of building plan audits, rating the energy efficiency of a home and placing energy labels on the new home. The assessment helps homeowners make informed decisions regarding the upgrades available for their homes. The Yukon is leading the nation on a per-capita basis with the amount of energy audits being performed. This reflects the corporationís commitment toward building healthy, environmentally sustainable communities.

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The Yukon Housing Corporation has professional staff who strive for continuous improvement. I am thankful for their continued dedication and their very hard work. Their efforts contribute to community wellness by providing better living conditions for all Yukoners. These are some of the corporationís significant accomplishments this year.

At this time, I would be pleased to discuss the supplementary further, should the members have any questions.

Mr. Cardiff:   I have a few questions for the minister with regard to the Yukon Housing Corporation supplementary budget. I trust that the minister is now familiar with the news release that came out while he was at the conference on affordable housing. I have a question with regard to one of the items. It says that the federal funding for housing should be provided to provinces and territories as direct transfers and should not require provinces and territories to cost match or cost share. Does this mean that the territorial government is now off the hook for having to match the money that is coming from the federal government?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Actually, we have already matched the funding on the affordable housing initiative here. One of the things that came out of the conference in Gatineau that the member opposite refers to was the fact that having to force territories, or provinces in some cases, to match the funding becomes very, very onerous. This is very important to the three territories of course. It is also extremely important to Newfoundland and Labrador and, in fact, has prevented Newfoundland and Labrador from accessing some of the funding programs. So when we were talking about the possibility of continuing programs, Newfoundland and Labrador had not even started yet on their programs.

These were principles that were agreed to by the ministers present. They were put forward by the three territories in a meeting prior to the provincial and territorial meetings. We had private meetings with the minister, and these are principles and guidelines that Minister Fontana will now bring back to his federal Cabinet and look at. They are not written in stone, but we are hopeful that they will be adopted in the future.

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Mr. Cardiff:   The minister said that they have already matched the federal funding. Itís my understanding that the affordable housing initiative is $5.5 million over five years. I would be interested to know what type of bookkeeping took place to obtain the credit for the $5.5 million. I know they were looking at the Copper Ridge facility, hoping that that was going to be the ticket to match. But the way that the press release is worded, the framework says that we donít have to match it any more. Iíd be interested in how we actually match the entire $5.5 million and if the Copper Ridge facility is considered as an affordable housing initiative.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   It was, in fact, done with some very good accounting and some very good work by our officials. Again, the initiative still requires matching funding.

The document that the member opposite refers to was hammered out over a day at a meeting which I was at. It is guiding principles, again, for Minister Fontana to take back to his federal Cabinet, which he personally seems to support very strongly. But the matching is still in place and yes, we were able to have Copper Ridge accepted as our matching component for our part of the $5.5 million in affordable housing. Thatís one of the reasons why we can now proceed.

Mr. Cardiff:   We had a few questions in the Legislature where Iíve asked the minister about social housing and he responded in the Legislature and he responded in the media. He says that there is more need for affordable seniors housing, so I have a few questions.

Iíd like to know what data the minister is relying on to prioritize seniors housing over social housing. I know that the social housing report that has been done over several years is a big document. But has there been an actual formal survey of seniors that points out what their needs are?

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Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   In fact, it can be as basic as simply looking at the statistical analysis, with a rapidly ageing population in the Yukon and people tending to stay here to retire, and in some cases move here to retire. So, as we watch that part of the bell curve move into the upper areas, itís fairly obvious to see that this is where our need is going to be. Itís very different from the need of the Northwest Territories or Nunavut, for instance. This is what we tried to get through to the federal minister and his parliamentary secretary at the meetings in Gatineau, and I think both were very much on the same page. The needs for each territory are significantly different.

We do have a need to control those funds within our own jurisdiction and to pattern them after our own problems. For instance, Nunavut could use 3,000 units tomorrow and still barely come up to standard. They actually have a real bulge in the bell curve in the lower age ranges, so consequently thatís their need. For us, the bulge in that bell curve is actually in the upper age ranges.

The other thing too is that we provide more affordable housing for seniors on fixed incomes who donít quite come into the social housing range. We hope to be able to free up housing and the social end as well. So the two will work synergistically together and help us approach that problem. But right now, all of the studies weíve done ó the demographics and statistics ó and our own staff ó with many, many years of experience in looking over this ó tell us that our biggest need right now is in seniors housing.

Mr. Cardiff:   The minister has indicated in the media and, I believe, in the House that something big is going to happen in this area in the near future. As late as last week, he was hoping it was going to happen this week. It hasnít happened this week yet, and he just indicated that it may not happen now until early in the new year.

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I raised some concerns and questions around Yukon Housing Corporationís involvement in a private sector development in the Takhini subdivision. The minister indicated that they did provide a guarantee on some units. Those units were for sale. One of the other things the minister said was that the units that are going to be proposed in this affordable housing are going to be managed by private enterprise but the rents are going to be fixed. So itís my understanding that basically theyíre going to make some money available to meet the requirements for people who are disabled or have age-related mobility problems. Basically, itís about doors and itís all about accessibility to these units. So the Housing Corporation is going to provide this money to the private sector. I have a couple of questions. Maybe Iíll start with how many of these units are actually going to be for sale, and in what price range would the units be going up for sale?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   It would appear that the member is putting this together quite well, actually. To give out individual details on that right now might be inappropriate, but we will be making the announcement. We had hoped that we would have it before Christmas. It has to go through a separate board of directors ó Yukon Housing board of directors ó so the control is not totally in our hands. The arrangement with the property on Takhini that the member opposite mentions ó it was a guarantee for three houses. In fact, only two were purchased, and they are for sale. The intention was never to pick up those houses. The intention was to allow them to be built and to give the guarantee that the builder needed for the financing to get them in there and get them into the stock.

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Mr. Cardiff:   I thank the minister for that.

I am sure the minister must understand where Iím trying to go. I mean, I think Iíve made it pretty clear that the units that are on the market right now that the corporation is involved in ó well, I had my staff call the real estate agent and found out that theyíre about $170,000. There arenít a lot of seniors who can afford $170,000. I think itís really unrealistic to expect that thereís a whole bunch of seniors out there who are going to be able to afford ó if those are the types of units that are being anticipated, itís really unreasonable to expect seniors to be able to afford that kind of a unit.

Not only that, but Iíd be interested to know whether the Yukon Housing Corporation is actually going to be guaranteeing mortgages. I donít think that the banks are going to be all that interested in providing mortgages to seniors who are on fixed incomes.

We need to think about the people who are on pensions, who donít have large pensions; theyíre on fixed incomes. So, Iím wondering about a couple of things. Could the minister provide a copy of the agreement that they had for Normandy Estates, and then basically address my concerns about how seniors are going to be able to afford mortgages? Maybe he could indicate what the proportion of units is that is going to be for sale.

†071a

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Those houses were built for their accessibility and the green home program. It was never the intention to actually own them and utilize them for that.

One of the things in many different areas of government, but certainly in housing, is a constantly shifting matrix. If we can resolve a need in one area, we can sort of push people who are in that area into another area. Thatís part of this matrix as well.

I can certainly take a look to see if that agreement is available. It does involve a third party ó Iím not a lawyer, but I will certainly look at that for you.

Mr. Cardiff:   I have some serious concerns about this. The other concern I have is with regard to the comment by the minister that the units that are anticipated to be built are going to be managed by private enterprise, and they are going to access, basically, taxpayersí money to create these accessible units. Then the rents are only going to be fixed for 10 years. I am wondering what guarantee seniors on fixed incomes who are in these units have after 10 years? Are they going to be pushed out onto the street? I am sure their pensions arenít going to go up at the same rate as rents are going to go up.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I do share some concerns with the member opposite on the 10-year time span, but that is imposed on us by the federal Liberal government; we have no choice in that matter. The only choice we would have is to access the funds or not access the funds.

The other thing that the member has to consider is the ability to leverage those funds. To simply take those funds and build units is one approach. To lever them into a much larger pot of money is the way that the fund is aimed. The details of that will come out early in the new year.

072a

Mr. Cardiff:   Iím going to switch just a little bit here. Weíve been talking a bit about seniors housing, and I think the minister needs to maybe talk with seniors, survey seniors, find out what their needs are before they go ahead with this development and make sure that there is ó I know that there is a lot of information within the department, but to actually ask them what it is that is going to meet their needs.

I would just like to switch up just a little bit, because I would like to go back to social housing. My colleague from Kluane has been after the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources to address some serious concerns about pipeline readiness that all Yukoners have that donít seem to be shared on that side of the Legislature. The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources told us that this was an issue that was studied 30 years ago, and it was studied 30 years ago, and that was then, and this is now. And the realities of today are a lot different from what they were in 1978. So maybe it wasnít 30 years ago. Maybe it was only 26 or 28 ó anyway, it doesnít matter. That was quite awhile ago. The concerns that we have on this side of the House and that the public has are of the huge influx of construction workers and related people who come with a huge megaproject. It doesnít matter whether itís the pipeline or whether itís a mining project. If there is going to be increased economic activity, there are going to be social consequences.

073a

There are going to be people who can go out and get jobs, but there are also still going to be those people who are working for minimum wage. The minimum wage jobs are not going to go away. Everybody is not going to quit working at McDonalds or Tim Hortons or any of the lower paying jobs out there that are paying minimum wage. Iím sure that the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources can remember back to 1978 ó I know I was here ó and what happened when there was even the hint that there was going to be a pipeline: rents went through the roof.

Weíve got that hint that itís going to happen. We know that the government is racing to make sure that it does happen, and theyíre trying to get all of their ducks in a row. But the things that they are not addressing, in our minds, are the social issues, with one of those issues being housing. Weíre going to have a huge influx of people. There is not going to be just the people who are out there working for minimum wage now; thereís going to be a whole bunch more people who are working at minimum wage who are going to be trying to get into that rent market that is going to be hugely inflated.† What are they going to do for affordable housing? Maybe theyíll be able to move in and rent a room in some of these seniors complexes; I donít know.

But I see that as a need that is coming down the tube here, so to speak, and I think that itís something that the government as a whole needs to study. Thatís why weíve asked the government to have the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment look at the social impacts and the environmental impacts. This is just one little component of what really needs to be studied.

074a

So Iíd like the minister ó this is my last question ó to try to address some of those concerns. Assure me and assure everybody out there who is listening, and those people who are concerned about this will search out the answers Iím sure that something is being done toward this because what Iím hearing is that weíre going to build a bunch of seniors housing. I donít say we donít need that, but I think we need to have some vision to the future to look at what else is coming at us, which is this pipeline, and thereís going to be huge social impacts. There is going to be a need for affordable housing for regular Yukoners who arenít going to be working in the high-paying construction jobs; theyíre going to be working in the low minimum-wage jobs. So if the minister can answer that, thatíll be it.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   First of all, to go back to the first part of that question, we certainly have consulted with a great number of seniors on a number of different levels. The member perhaps is confused when he refers to this development. The whole idea of leveraging the money into a great number of developments will hopefully give us a much wider range and a wider breadth of solutions and not lock us into a single area.

†075a

There is a phase 2 to the affordable housing program, and this was announced some time ago. However, it is very badly flawed, and we are at the mercy of the federal government and its terms. For instance, the 10-year term on that ó perhaps it should be more, but we donít have that capability unfortunately.

In phase 2, we drop from $5.5 million to $300,000. The same sort of a range in Nunavut, for instance, drops to $270,000, I believe, in a program they referred to as the ďaffordable house program.Ē The Northwest Territories did a little better. If they subsidize a little bit, they might get a duplex. Obviously, this is woefully inadequate, and we have done everything we can to make that clear to the federal minister, and I think he has heard us, and I think his parliamentary secretary has heard us. We are given assurances that they will go back to the Cabinet table and back to trying to deal with that because we do have the same concerns.

In terms of what can happen in the future, Iím very, very grateful to hear the Member for Mount Lorne so hopeful about the pipeline. Itís about time they shared our optimism on the economic future. But what happens then is not certain. I agree with that. Unfortunately, within the programs we have to work with from our federal colleagues, we donít have an ability to work beyond that.

We are back at the table and will continue to be back at the table and weíll keep harassing them. Hopefully, over time, by the time the pipeline becomes a reality, we will have some better news.

076a

Mr. Cardiff:   I have just one quick question. Iíve heard the same explanation before about whatís provided for in phase 2 and how that works. I donít need an answer today, but could the minister provide some sort of an explanation or a schematic diagram of how all this funding works? I imagine that the leader of the third party would be interested in that, as well, if that information is available as to how the funding is structured and the comparisons that he is using here, because itís not entirely clear. So if he could do that, I would be happy.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   First of all, what the member is asking for, I believe, on one level, is exactly what weíre hoping to release very early in January, and get that out. But I would ask the member opposite: does he want information from across the country on other jurisdictions on a wider range or for the Yukon?

077a

Mr. Cardiff:   Basically itís for the Yukon, but the minister is providing these comparisons with the Northwest Territories. What Iím looking for is how this affordable housing funding, phase 1 and phase 2, actually works and what the requirements are that the federal government is imposing on us.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Again, most of that information will come out in what weíll be releasing in early January, but there is a matrix of all the various territories and provinces and whatís in phase 1 and phase 2. Iíd be happy to send that over.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate on Yukon Housing Corporation?

Hearing none, weíll proceed with line-by-line.

Mr. Cardiff:   I would request unanimous consent of Committee of the Whole to deem all the lines in Vote 18, Yukon Housing Corporation, cleared or carried, as required.

078a

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 18, Yukon Housing Corporation, cleared or carried

Chair:   Mr. Cardiff has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 18, Yukon Housing Corporation, cleared or carried, as required. Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair:   There is unanimous consent.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $58,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures in the amount of $98,000 agreed to

Yukon Housing Corporation agreed to

Chair:   That concludes the specific examinations of the votes. I will direct the attention of members to Schedule A.

On Schedule A

On Subtotal Operation and Maintenance

Subtotal Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $30,648,000 agreed to

On Subtotal Capital

Subtotal Capital in the amount of $12,867,000 agreed to

On Total Sums Required

Total Sums Required in the amount of $43,515,000 agreed to

079a

Schedule A agreed to

On Schedule B

Schedule B agreed to

On Schedule C

Schedule C agreed to

On Clause 1

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Clause 2 agreed to

On Clause 3

Clause 3 agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

 

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, I move that Bill No. 12, Second Appropriation Act, 2004-05, be reported without amendment.

Chair:   It has been moved by Mr. Jenkins that Bill No. 12, Second Appropriation Act, 2004-05, be reported without amendment.

Motion agreed to

080a

Chair:   I understand that the next order of business is Bill No. 11, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2003-04.

Bill No. 11 ó Fourth Appropriation Act, 2003-04

Chair:   Order please. Is there any further debate in general debate?

That concludes general debate. We now move on to Vote 15, Health and Social Services.

 

Department of Health and Social Services

Chair:   Is there any general debate?

081a

Mr. McRobb:   We in the opposition are still waiting to receive the studies for the seniors facilities in Dawson and Watson Lake, as well as the study for the seniors facility in Haines Junction. Can we get the minister to provide us with a more precise date when we will be receiving that information?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   This supplementary does not pertain to that area whatsoever.

Mr. McRobb:   Well, that doesnít really matter. The fact is that we have the opportunity to ask the minister a question pertaining to his department. But, once again, the Yukon Party throws up the wall of secrecy, so what can we do?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I wonít speak for Dawson City, but I will speak for Watson Lake. You know, the member opposite could contact the Signpost Seniors, and they would provide the member opposite with information and documentation that dates back to the mid-1980s on the work that the Signpost Seniors and others have done in the community of Watson Lake in relation to a seniors centre or complex.

082a

The government is only proceeding with what the community has expressed a great desire in for the better part of 12 years. By the way, if the member were really interested in dealing with whatís happening in todayís Yukon, the member would recognize that in our election platform there was a commitment to build these facilities. So weíre going to proceed ó as I am sure the minister is committed to do ó in building the facilities, and once theyíre built the member is free to go to Dawson or Watson Lake and study them at great length.

Mr. McRobb:  † To the contrary, the Yukon Party election campaign platform ó for as much as anybody would want to really believe it ó only identifies seniors facilities in communities where a need can be demonstrated. It didnít specifically identify Watson Lake or Dawson City. Now, that aside, Iím reticent to say anything about Watson Lake or anything about anything else for that matter, or the Yukon Party is going to reinvigorate its team of letter writers and weíll be facing letters to the editor on the issue. Thatís what the state of democracy has deteriorated to.

083a

It was the Yukon Partyís letter writing campaign. You know, they canít stand up in the Legislature and defend themselves, answer questions, or provide information ó they have to get other people to do their work for them. We see that time and time again. Once again, democracy under this government has just really gone downhill. People are really looking forward to the next opportunity to vote in a government that will listen to the people and uphold the basic tenets of democracy.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The issue of multi-level care facilities for the communities of Dawson and Watson Lake is an issue that our government campaigned on. Itís an issue that we have identified in the budget ó $100,000 this last cycle. That is for the examination and the conceptual drawings of what the facility would look like.

084a

And the member opposite, the Member for Kluane, is going into great theatrics as to how he envisions our partyís position, but he cannot dispute the facts, and the facts of the matter are that we made a commitment, weíve honoured that commitment, weíve gone through the analysis of it for Watson Lake and Dawson City, weíve gone through the conceptual design, and weíre moving forward as a government.

We also committed to examining the feasibility of a multilevel care facility, a seniors complex, in both Teslin and the memberís community riding of Haines Junction. Those studies are being concluded. Theyíre in the draft form, and weíd be happy to share them with the members opposite when theyíre in the final format.

Weíre not hiding anything. Weíre completely open, and weíre fully accountable. But let the record reflect, Mr. Chair, that the members opposite voted against the $100,000 to analyze the needs for a multi-level care facility in Watson Lake and Dawson. They voted against the money for the analysis of a multi-level health care/seniors complex in Teslin and Haines Junction. So I donít know where these members are coming from with respect to initiatives in their respective communities. This is coming from a party that is a do-nothing party. They donít want to engage in bona fide debate on the budget, and that was evident in the spring session, when our government brought forward the largest budget ever in the history of the Yukon Territory.

085a

It had a lot of initiatives in there that went the full range of initiatives that a government such as ours is involved in. We did our level best to address needs where there was a demonstrated need. That went without exception. So weíre quite comfortable and confident that our partyís position as to restoring the investor confidence in the Yukon, putting the financial house in order of the Yukon government, has been done.

We continue to work at it. In fact, the Premierís teleconference with the Prime Minister of Canada today is a testimony to the initiatives that Yukon has underway with the federal government. Yes, itís a federal Liberal government that, unlike the previous Liberal administration here at the territorial level, weíve been able to make the case, put forward the initiatives and advance the cause of Yukon. Weíre very thankful for the very good relationship that we have established with our senior level of government and Iím sure that will continue.

†086a

Government is all about having your fiscal house in order, moving forward on the initiatives and areas government is responsible for, and we have done just that. We have made great strides in restoring investor confidence here in the Yukon. We have made great strides in rebuilding the Yukon economy. We have made great strides in seeing the work force and the population here in the Yukon increase. There is an inward migration of people to the Yukon because it is, in my opinion, one of the best places to live and work in Canada. Iím sure that more and more people will be sharing that with us as we move forward in our mandate.

Predicated on our ability to address a broad range of issues here in the Yukon, Iím quite comfortable that Yukoners will see their way clear to provide this government with a new mandate in two or three years down the road ó I guess itís about two years down the road ó and we can continue the good work of meeting the challenges and needs of Yukoners.

087a

This supplementary, Bill No. 11, has two major components to it ó the Public Service Commission and also the Health and Social Services portfolio. It is pretty straightforward. It has been long debated, but weíre debating history. This basically closes out the fiscal year. I guess the members opposite are going to try to attempt to rewrite history. I donít think thatís possible; thatís not achievable, but there might be a new spin put on it that may or may not be accepted. Iím sure the press will pick up on it, rightly or wrongly, but thatís often said about the press. You donít get into an argument with anyone who buys paper by the ton and ink by the barrel.

Weíre not going that route. The official opposition here in the Yukon is now the press; it has been under our watch. The Member for Kluane goes on at great length about constituency issues that are duly recognized and are being dealt with, because ours is a government that looks at the entire Yukon, not just specific ridings or specific areas. We do so with the best intentions of honouring our commitments to all Yukoners.

088a

So that said, Mr. Chair, we can probably just conclude debate on this subject matter and call in the Commissioner, but Iím sure if the members opposite have anything else to question in this supplementary, they can do so accordingly. Its relevance is probably questionable.

Mr. Chair, letís examine some of the areas contained in this supplementary that are within the Department of Health and Social Services. Mr. Chair, there are a lot of costs that are being incurred to address the responsibilities in our social safety net. We probably have one of the best, if not the best, social safety nets in Canada. In many respects, weíve enhanced it. We have enhanced it for the betterment of Yukoners, and the 2003-04 supplementary closes out and concludes those expenditures.

Mr. Chair, it is interesting to note that the audit is unqualified. I believe we only have to see what has transpired in the past to bring into focus how effective and efficient this government has been in addressing its responsibilities. For the first time in a long time, the audit of Yukon is unqualified.†

089a

I know that the leader of the third party is going to go on at great lengths that that doesnít cover the full range of the operations of the Yukon government. There is one area that the audit is qualified, and that is one of the Crown corporations that is armís length from Yukon. But government has no involvement, other than seeing that the board carries out its responsibilities. Itís just another area where our Yukon Party government has inherited a number of problem areas from the past two administrations that must now be addressed. Weíre doing just that, Mr. Chair; we are doing just that.

The departmental objectives contained in the preamble to the supplementary are very explicit. Health and Social Services is committed to working with the community to ensure quality health and social services for Yukon. This will be achieved by helping individuals acquire the skills to live responsible, active, healthy and independent lives and by providing a range of accessible, sustainable services that assist individuals, families, and communities to reach their full potential. That sums up the departmental objectives of the Department of Health and Social Services.

When we look at the additional $416,000 that is being requested by the department, itís due mainly to higher than anticipated costs for children in care and out-of-territory doctor and hospital claims.

Yukon is fortunate in having probably the best of the smaller sized hospitals in Canada, the Whitehorse General Hospital.

090a

Its range of services and the level of care for its patients are recognized continuously. This is not because of the bricks and mortar, but because of the health care professionals who provide the services ó mind you, itís probably one of the few buildings that government has that is a functional design that works. The responsibility for the high level of care and the high level of service is firmly vested in the people who provide those services.†

Weíre very, very pleased to have access to health care, to meet the health care requirements for those services that cannot be addressed here in the Yukon. We have to send individuals to British Columbia or to Alberta from time to time, and part of this $416,000 cost is for out-of-territory doctor and hospital claims. I believe last year the stats were that there were 184 operations that could not be performed here in the Yukon and were done outside of the Yukon. People have to be constantly moved back and forth. Yes, there is a great cost that we incur in that area.

But letís look at what we are. There are just 30,000 people odd here in the Yukon and growing. The Department of Health and Social Services, in conjunction with the Yukon Medical Association and the Yukon Hospital Board, are enhancing services and service delivery.

091a

That change is coming after careful consideration of the needs of Yukoners and a business case is made in each area. Weíre very proud that weíre able to meet the ongoing demands. Like a lot of operations, itís a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation, and government doesnít appear to be as good as it could be in providing 24/7 service in a lot of areas. Most of the structures in place are nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday, and that has been a challenge. That has been a challenge indeed, because the expectations are that when help is needed, that help is there. Weíre striving in a number of ways to provide that help, so when Yukoners call for assistance ó or indeed anyone visiting the Yukon or coming through the Yukon calls for help or assistance ó their requests will be capably handled.

Weíve come a long way, and we have a long way to go. Iím very hopeful that the official opposition and the third party will see their way clear to support this supplementary, Bill No. 11, that closes out the 2003-04 fiscal year and closes it out in a manner that leads the Auditor General to conclude ó and she has done so ó that this is an unqualified audit. Itís the first for a long time for Yukon and one that we have worked our level best to ensure takes place.

092a

Mr. Chair, we would have been very hopeful that there would have been more constructive debate from the official opposition on this supplementary, but there doesnít appear to be an appetite. There is an appetite to not do anything, defer, stand down, change and stop. We canít do that and we wonít do that because, as a government, we are committed to meeting the high standards that Yukoners expect in this area.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate on Vote 15, Department of Health and Social Services?

Hearing none, weíll go into line-by-line.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $416,000 agreed to

Department of Health and Social Services agreed to

 

Public Service Commission

Chair:   Weíll move on to Vote 10, Public Service Commission. Is there any general debate? Hearing none, weíll go into line-by-line examination.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $403,000 agreed to

Public Service Commission agreed to

 

On Schedule A

On Subtotal Operation and Maintenance

Subtotal Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $819,000 agreed to

On Subtotal Capital

Subtotal Capital in the amount of nil agreed to

On Total Sums Required

Total Sums Required in the amount of $819,000 agreed to

Schedule A agreed to

093a

On Schedule B

Schedule B agreed to

On Clause 1

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Clause 2 agreed to

On Clause 3

Clause 3 agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

 

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, I move that you report Bill No. 11, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2003-04, without amendment.

Chair:   It has been moved by Mr. Jenkins that Bill No. 11, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2003-04, be reported without amendment.

Motion agreed to

 

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Chair:   It has been moved by Mr. Jenkins that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Motion agreed to

 

Speaker resumes the Chair

 

094a

Speaker:   I will now call the House to order.

May we have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?

Chairís report

Chair:   Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 12, Second Appropriation Act, 2004-05, and Bill No. 11, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2003-04, and has directed me to report them without amendment.

Speaker:   You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Speaker:   I declare the report carried.

Government bills.

GOVERNMENT BILLS

Bill No. 11: Third Reading

Clerk:   †Third reading, Bill No. 11, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Fentie.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I move that Bill No. 11, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 2003-04, be now read a third time and do pass.

†095a

Speaker:   It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 11, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 2003-04, be now read a third time and do pass.

Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.

Division

Speaker:   Division has been called.

 

Bells

 

Speaker:   Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.†

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   †Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Mr. Cathers:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hassard:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Disagree.

Mr. McRobb:   Disagree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Disagree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Disagree.

Mrs. Peter:   Disagree.

Ms. Duncan:   Disagree.

Mr. Arntzen: Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 10 yea, six nay.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 11 agreed to

Speaker:   I declare that Bill No. 11 has passed this House.

Bill No. 12: Third Reading

Clerk:   Third reading. Bill No. 12, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Fentie.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I move that Bill No. 12, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2004-05, be now read a third time and do pass.

096a

Speaker:  It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 12, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2004-05, be now read a third time and do pass.

Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.

Division

Speaker:   Division has been called.

 

Bells

Speaker:   Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   †Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Mr. Cathers:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hassard:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Disagree.

Mr. McRobb:   Disagree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Disagree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Disagree.

Mrs. Peter:   Disagree.

Ms. Duncan:   Disagree.

Mr. Arntzen: Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 10 yea, six nay.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 12 agreed to

Speaker:   I declare that Bill No. 12 has passed this House.

097a

We are now prepared to receive the Commissioner, in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor, to grant assent to the bills that have passed this House.

 

Commissioner enters the Chamber, announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms

ASSENT TO BILLS

Commissioner:   Please be seated.

Speaker:   Mr. Commissioner, the Assembly has, at its present session, passed certain bills to which, in the name and on behalf of the Assembly, I respectfully request your assent.

Clerk:   Act to Amend the Oil and Gas Act; Act to Amend the Financial Administration Act; Act to Amend the Elections Act; Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act; Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act; Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act; Act to Amend the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act; Act to Amend the Insurance Act; Act to Amend the Income Tax Act; Second Appropriation Act, 2004-05; and Fourth Appropriation Act, 2003-04.

098a

Commissioner:  † I hereby assent to the bills as enumerated by the Clerk.

Just before rising, let me put in a little plug for the Commissionerís Levee. I sent you all invitations and the Minister of Education and I are going to be presenting the Governor Generalís academic medals to the students who had the highest averages in graduation from their secondary school, and there will be a Commissionerís Award for Jeri and Bill Weigand, who I think most of you know, and a couple of Commissionerís awards for bravery and some awards for the Duke of Edinburgh program. So if you want to start the new year, 2005, on a really positive note, come on out and honour a number of Yukoners.

Thank you very much and compliments of the season.

 

Commissioner leaves the Chamber

099a

Adjournment of House

Speaker:   As the House has reached the maximum number of days permitted for this fall sitting, as established pursuant to Standing Order 75(3), and the House has completed consideration of the designated legislation, it is the duty of the Chair to declare that this House now stands adjourned.

 

The House adjourned at 5:07 p.m.

 

 

 

The following Sessional Papers were tabled December 14, 2004:

 

04-1-133

Shareholder Letter of Expectations 2004-05 (between the minister responsible for YDC and YDC/YEC)† (Lang)

 

04-1-134

Education, Department of: Public Schools Branch 2003-04 School Year Annual Report† (Edzerza)

 

04-1-135

Property Management Agency 2003-04 Annual Report† (Lang)

 

04-1-136

Government Contracting Summary Report by Department (April 1, 2004 - September 30, 2004)† (Lang)

 

04-1-137

State of the Environment Report (Yukon) 2002† (Jenkins)

 

04-1-138

Yukon Council on the Economy and Environment 2003-04 Annual Report† (Jenkins)